Football Group Calls For Stricter Eligibility Requirements

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In an effort to raise the academic quality of college athletes, the College Football Association (cfa) has designed proposals to tighten eligibility requirements for awarding college athletic scholarships to high-school students.

The cfa--comprising 60 colleges and universities with football programs in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (ncaa), excluding the schools in the Pacific 10 and Big 10 conferences--devised two proposals to be considered as new legislation by the ncaa at its convention next January.

Last month, a group known as the "Georgia Seminar"--including university presidents and such prominent college coaches as Pennsylvania State University football coach Joe Paterno and Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight--drafted similar proposals that will also be introduced at the ncaa conference. And these have been endorsed by the athletic directors of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The most stringent of the cfa proposals were devised by the faculty representatives' group within the cfa (there are also a coaches' group and an athletic directors' group). They would require that student athletes meet the following requirements in high school in order to be eligible for athletic scholarships:

Four years of English, including one year of composition.

Two years of mathematics, including one year of algebra.

Three years of social science.

Two years of natural science, including one year of laboratory science.

Four years of additional coursework drawn from the above subjects or from the subjects of foreign languages, computer science, and speech.

In addition, the students must graduate from high school with an overall grade-point average (gpa) of 2.0 on a scale of 4.0.

The faculty-generated proposals also suggest that a committee be established to work with testing-service officials "to try to develop an achievement test that could be used in connection with initial eligibility in some way," according to Charles Neinas, executive director of the cfa

Some college athletics officials argue that the standardized achievement tests currently used discriminate against black students.

Less stringent proposals, proposed by the athletic directors within the group, would require three years of English, two of mathematics, an overall gpa of 2.0, and an American College Testing Program (act) examination score of 15, or a combined Scholastic Achievement Test (sat) score of 700.

(The average sat score in 1981 was 890, according to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the tests.)

Either set of proposals, if passed, would not go into effect until the 1985-86 academic year, to give high schools more "lead time," Mr. Neinas said, to prepare for the new requirements.

The ncaa currently only requires scholarship recipients to have an overall grade-point average of 2.0 upon graduation from high school.

Various proposals to bolster academic standards for athletes who are entering college with scholarship aid have failed.

David Berst, director of enforcement for the ncaa, says the matter has received continuing attention since 1973, when the "1.600 rule" was dropped and replaced with the 2.0 gpa requirement.

Mr. Berst described the "1.600 rule" as a "complicated" method that combined high-school gpa, precollege achievement-test scores, and class rank.

"Over the years, [the 2.0 rule] has been considered a lower standard," Mr. Berst said.

A proposal called the "triple option" failed to win the approval of the ncaa on two separate occasions, Mr. Neinas said. Under it, students would have had to meet one of three requirements: a 2.25 gpa, a score of 750 on the sat, or 17 on the act

At the ncaa convention in last January, a proposal was defeated that would have denied a student his first year of collegiate competition unless he had a 2.5 high-school gpa

Vol. 01, Issue 38

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